Amongst the very serious news making headlines on Wednesday, there was also the news that the Walkie Talkie skyscraper building in central London has been judged to be the ugliest building in the whole of the UK. As you can see from my very dreary featured image which I took a few days ago on a very wet Monday, it doesn’t look all that inspiring. But is it really the ugliest building this country has?

Dangerous glass

You might remember that the Walkie Talkie became famous for it’s glass causing some quite serious damage to a Jaguar car down below, and apparently the building has created a bit of a wind tunnel at it’s base. I never walked round it so I can’t say for myself if people’s comb overs do in fact get ruined when walking by the building.

For me though, although it’s not the most inspiring building ever built, the Walkie Talkie isn’t the ugliest building in the UK. The judges really should have taken time to visit Wakefield. We have some eyesores in the centre that really could do with knocking down and starting over!

Glazing make’th the building

There is however an abundance of fantastic architecture in the capital that makes the most of one of the best construction materials ever created. I’m talking about glass of course.

The Shard in London

With over 11,000 glass panels and a name literally referring to most of what it’s made from, The Shard is a perfect example of glazing being used to great effect.

If you look at the the skyscrapers being built right now, or those recently completed, they are making much better use of glass. Take a look at skyscrapers of old and there is much less of the stuff.

There is something about glass that when used right, can make such a huge visual impact and drastically improve any skyline. Imagine for a moment that much of The Shard was built using things like concrete, massive metal work and limited glass. It would look very different and damn awful. The fact these tapering edges are covered head to toe in glazed curtain walling gives it it’s shimmering appearance, even though my picture was taken on a very miserable day in the capital.

In fact for those who have visited that area of London, glass plays a massive role in the general architecture of that area. It’s been redeveloped over the past few years and all the buildings there seem to be wrapped in some very high quality glazed curtain walling. It creates a very high-end, luxurious effect. I don’t think I could afford to rent an office round there!

The importance of glass

Stories like this do throw the important of glass into the spotlight somewhat. Even on smaller, residential works, glass can make or break the end result of a project.

The right type of glass, when it has been considered and thought about, can have a profound impact on the final result. The wrong glass can send it plain Pete Tong.

In the past, I feel like glass has been under-appreciated as a construction material. Now though, given the various advancements in it’s technology, and it’s increased use as the main envelope material around skyscrapers, perhaps we could be entering a golden age for glass.

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